Tuesday, November 27, 2007

It's a Festival of Felt!

Could these felt things be any cuter???
The snowmen were made for a swap last Christmas by Kristin Strandlund, she took this adorable picture before she mailed them off. I think the picture alone could be a Christmas card. It's just priceless.
Who wouldn't want to adopt one of these?

These charming critters were made for the same swap by Bethany Mann, aka Bitter Betty . The dachshund in the beret is my favorite, it just kills me.

These two are just so sweet, and doesn't she photograph them beautifully? I love the broken ornaments in this picture. They totally remind of Christmas decor from my childhood. Only better!

This gal is a hoot. Note the cigarette in the mouth of the "punk rock" deer.

Sadly she can't sell these pets as they are the copyrighted design of someone else. She is open to trades, however.

BUT! She does have an Etsy store and look what I bought! She has more of the birds on the left, in different colors, but you'll have to ask about the owls if you're interested. I didn't see any in her store just now. I'm just thrilled. I bought the owl sight unseen. This is a picture of some she had made before. There's also a picture on her blog of more owls and other things.

Speaking of felt and yarn - have you guys ever checked out Linda's blog or Etsy store for her hand-spun yarn? Wow! It's awesome and she's just a spinning maniac. It amazes me, how much she gets done. She makes me want to take up those knitting needles again, but I've sworn not to add any more crafts to my world!!! .....Okay, you can all pick your laughing selves up off the floor now. We all know how futile that declaration is...

And speaking of craft addictions - um, I mean, fondness - I got a fantastic idea for my Secret Santa gift exchange recipient. And of course I didn't have all the supplies and so had to go supply shopping today - yippee! I managed to keep my purchases to about $25 total - and that's going to three different stores!!! I'm pretty sure that's gold-medal-worthy self control. Anyway, I'd tell you more - but then it wouldn't be a secret! When I know that she's safely received it I will post a picture.

Thanksgiving #2 on Sunday was great. It was spent with the loud, rowdy side of the family and was fun and silly and loud. Have I mentioned they're loud? Oh geez, I guess I have to say "we're" loud. (I am not exactly known for my shyness.) Since I've already got a long post here I will simply say that I am thankful that they don't change and really, really thankful to have them in my life. Thank you Blaus and Ammans, you guys are in the dictionary under "family," poking the next word with a stick and offering it a cocktail at the same time....love you.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Thanksgiving Thankfulness Part 1- and What About Halloween?

(Rexy on her way to her first Trick or Treating experience)

Happy Black Friday! I don't know about you, but I didn't go near the stores today. It kind of scares me, too many stories of fist fights breaking out over toys and parking spots. Plus I'm determined to buy as many handmade items as I can this year. We'll see if that conviction holds as I get closer to the day and I'm without presents for someone.
There will not be a speck of art news in this post. It's all personal. Just so you know in case you want to skip it.
I realized that I never talked about Halloween - now that November is almost over - so I thought I'd post some pictures and give a quick synopsis before moving on to Thanksgiving. There was a party and children's parade at school.
Rexy wore regular clothes to school and then I went in and helped her change into her costume around 10 o'clock to be in the Pre-K parade. Well, as you can see, she didn't want to change out of the tights she wore to school. So she's wearing black and orange striped tights with her pink fairy princess dress! I like it's punk rock attitude. The parade was hard on her, though. Too many people, too many strangers. I'm not sure if taking a bunch of autistic kids around the school into strange rooms was such a good idea on the teachers' part.
(Aunt Laurie, Mommy and Rexy)

(Rexy at school)

Then, that night we went to my Aunt Laurie's house (yes, I'm named after her) for trick or treating. My aunt lives in a small town 40 miles south of us on a dead end road so I knew it wouldn't be unsafe or overcrowded. I wasn't sure if Rexy would be into it - more strangers - but after she saw the kids coming over to my aunt's house and getting candy she was all for it. So we set off, the four of us (me, DH, Rexy, Aunt Laurie), to trick or treat. We only went to about six houses which was about right for her stranger tolerance and my candy limit for her. At the next to last house we walked down a long, dark driveway and up onto a porch filled with what looked like rejected furniture. 2 big dogs were barking inside. If my aunt hadn't known this gal since she was 8 years old I might have hesitated to go up there. Anyway, I was apprehensive that Rexy might be scared. Well, Jeri opened the door and Rexy said her "Trick or treat!" and her "Thank you." The dogs calmed down and my aunt started chatting with Jeri for a minute. Well for some reason Rexy felt really comfortable there because she looked at Jeri and said, "Please come in!" and walked right into her house! Trying to hold back from laughing too much we got her back out on the porch and explained we weren't going in. As soon as we stopped talking she said, "Thank you!" and walked right in again! She was very determined. Too funny. Some people, she just likes their vibe or something. She can always tell who the insincere ones are, too.

Thanksgiving was yesterday. How was yours? Mine was almost exactly the same as it always is. Which is exactly the way I like it. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera at home so no pics. We, again, went to my Aunt Laurie's house. There were 11 of us for dinner. My aunt and uncle, my sister, my cousin, my other cousin and his wife. Also, my cousin's wife's parents have totally become part of our family, too, and they were part of the food extraveganza as well.
I'm thankful for the unchanging nature of our holidays. I'm thankful that my cousin's in-laws turned out to live only about 2 miles from his parents' house so that we don't have to miss him on holidays (When they met, his wife lived in Vancouver, BC and he lived/lives just over the U.S. border about ten miles from there. Their parents live 160 miles south of that - what a weird coincidence that they lived so close to each other, I think.). I'm thankful that they turned out to be so great that we want them to spend holidays with us! I'm thankful that my other cousin learned how to make pies from my grandmother before she died so that our holidays can continue as we remember them. It's comforting after dinner to eat apple pie that tastes just like hers. I'm thankful for my kind and generous aunt who has so valiantly stepped up to try and fill the shoes of my departed mother and grandmother. One of the hardest things for both of us to bear is the fact that Rexy will grow up without the grandparental presences we both had. DH's parents, too, have passed. I'm thankful for that golden time, after dinner is over, when we just sit around the table and talk; Telling stories, being silly, giving each other a hard time. It's the best. Most of all, I'm thankful for my DH and Rexy. With them, every moment is golden.
On Sunday we will go to another aunt (on my Dad's side) and uncle's house for a make-up Thanksgiving. That will be Part 2.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Are you a Betty?

Definition of a Betty:

Betty is a fun slang term for an attractive women - perhaps timeless - and being attractive doesn't just come from what you see on the outside...She loves to meet people, see new things and tries to make a small difference in the world as she goes. Betty believes beauty can be seen on the inside as well as the outside and doing things to cultivate both truly makes a person beautiful. You can't be a "Betty" and not give back to others.

(click on the picture to get the details of Betty's adventures and altruism)

I love this! Years ago (Gah! It's been more than ten years!) I had a friend, Michele (yes, the aforementioned one), that would call up all the girlfriends when she had a crisis and the conversation would go something like this, "Laurie? Betty session. STAT. The Cloud Room at 7 o'clock. See you there." What would follow would be a nice evening of cocktails and womanly support (and maybe a little bitching...).

Are you Betty or Veronica? A quiz

Are you Betty or Veronica? A book

A Betty and Veronica who are not who you think they are... A blog post

Information for Maximizing your Blog...

What to get the person who has everything....

Did I ever share these funny pictures with you? Truthfully, I can't even remember where I got them now. I may have been looking up "art cars" on google.

My kind friend Michele Hyra gave me the present of taking a blogging class with her at Discover U in Seattle. I wasn't really sure what we would learn in a blogging class - code? How to be interesting? Top Ten Widgets? Well it turned out to be a fantastic class. It was given by Tom Masters who, in addition to teaching the class and giving us an 80 page handout, also provided a copy of his extremely informative and helpful book, Blogging Quick & Easy, A Planned Approach to Blogging Success. We learned super informative stuff about building readership, measuring your traffic, and earning money with your blog. Another thing I learned about in the class is a cool tool that keeps track of all the blogs you visit. It can look a lot like your Outlook Express mailbox - a list on the left of the different blogs and on the right a view of the item you have highlighted. It updates everytime one of your blog friends post - instant updating! You may have already known about this, but it was news to me! I like the idea of all my bloggers in one place. I started a Google Reader account. I'm not sure it's my favorite yet. While it shows everyones blog, it doesn't show the skin, or formatting, of the blog. So you would see this blog in black and white, except for the pictures. One of the reasons I like blog strolling is because I like seeing how everyone's blogs look! So I may search out another reader service, although I may be asking too much of them...
A few of the interesting articles on Tom's website:

Happy Monday everyone!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

How cute is this???

Look at this cute thing! There's more like it at Elaine's blog, Artful Spirit. She's got the cutest, whimsical holiday things. You'll want one of each!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Hooray! I'm Getting Published!

Yesterday I got an email from Somerset Studio - They're featuring a piece I submitted in the upcoming issue of Gallery! Yahoo! My first time!

I had about given up. I mailed the piece in in June and had heard not a word. But they hadn't sent it back yet either. It occured to me a few nights ago that I had never given them my updated contact information and since they're quite adamant that all your things be labeled with said information, I decided I had better email them with the info ASAP. The very next day I got the email with the news.

It's a somewhat awkward piece to take a picture of (wish I'd thought of that issue before I sent it in), so I'm anxious to see how they will put it in print. When I get my issue I will post a picture!

(this isn't it)

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Thank you Kelly Rae

What do you think??? I'm thrilled with how this turned out! As I mentioned before, Kelly Rae Roberts has an article in Cloth, Paper, Scissors this month and in it she maps out a technique she uses (or "spills the beans" as she calls it). Well, I just loved her paintings in the magazine. The layered look was just calling out to me, "Try me! Try me!" The whole time I was working on a painting for my cousin all I could think about was cutting paper into squares for a background. Today I finally succumbed to the lure of the layer and went for it. The scan doesn't quite capture the depth the piece has, but it's pretty representational.

I don't have the same tools she has, or the expertise with acrylics, so I had to do some things a little differently than she does. For one thing, I don't have a brayer. (I know, I know! Everyone has a brayer! I just have never come across a desperate need for one. Maybe someday.) So I used a palette knife to apply paint to the patchwork background instead. I also kind failed at the whole wiping paint off after you've applied it situation. I'm still not used to acrylics and they kept drying on me. I ended up mixing the flesh tone 4 times - improvising colors because I don't have the same paints that she does (okay, my oil background does help with that part) - because it kept drying up before I could get done.

I just love this technique, my favorite part of other people's work is the fabulous layering that gets done and I could never seems to achieve it. I think I did here! And to top it all off - the DH loves it! He has requested that we keep this one! That never happens with my mixed media stuff. He's kind of an art snob and just doesn't get collage. When I was putting finishing touches on the piece he kept fussing at me not to change it.

Thank you, Kelly Rae, for the inspiration and the information.

Music is My Muse

Art Crusade #14
Tell us about your muse, or your imaginary friend, that motivates, inspires, or influences your art...
Music is my muse.

Music connects to something visceral inside me. I feel it as well as hear it. When I listen to music I am just me. Not a wife, a mother, a niece, a friend - just me. The real, authentic me. It's a heady feeling, one that I wish I could experience more in my world. I sometimes get pretty crabby when it seems that someone is standing in the way of my enjoyment, ie: "Can you turn that down?" or "Is there something else we could listen to?"

I’m always the one in my painting classes that wants the music louder, I have to set up near the stereo or I’m not entirely happy. When I’m painting outside of class, I’m happiest when I’ve got a CD on with songs that I know all the lyrics to. I crank it up so I’m surrounded by the sound and I sing along for all I’m worth. (for the record, I’m a terrible singer) And I move, not full out dancing – just a little bit of bopping to the beat. And while I’m doing that, something wonderful happens; I forget all my insecurities about art and skill and I just paint. The work just streams out of me and time passes unnoticed. In the end I only stop because I have to – have to go somewhere, have to feed someone, have to go to bed so I can get 4 hours of sleep. And when I’m done I’m completely relaxed. Happy and content.
Thank you, Music.

Art Crusade #14, Green Pepper Press Street Team:
On your blog, tell us about your Muse, or your Imaginary friend that motivates or inspires or influences your art. (It doesn't have to be a real person, maybe it's a thing or a place.) Mention Crusade No. 14 in your post, then comment here with a link to your site. Anyone can play so come join us!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

My Child Prodigy and a little Art Angst

This is what my mixed media child prodigy did with her therapist a couple of days ago! She's so cute. She comes running up to me with it in her hands calling, "Look! Look!" Then she hides her face in my waist because the excitement is too much for her.

How sweet is that???

Right now she is busy on the kitchen floor (wish I'd mopped it somewhat recently...) with some black beans, a dixie cup, and a skinny pirouette cookie tin. She was originally just happy as a clam playing with the tin, then Mommy decided to stir the pot by adding beans to make a shaker. Then I realized she was going to want to pour them out and needed something to put them in so I gave her the dixie cup. Who knew it would be such a party? There are beans everywhere. I may regret this later.

Quick! Run over to Gina's blog! She's got the best collection of old TV show theme songs on her blog. It cracks me up!

This morning I sketched this quickie self-portrait without actually looking at myself. It didn't start out to be me, but partway through I decided to make it me. I don't actually look like this. This person is much better looking than I am! Considering the poor quality of the sketch that's sort of frightening, isn't it? The nose is too small, the glasses are too big and there appears to be about 9 inches between the eyes! (to name just a few problems...) I've always meant to take part in one of those self portrait challenges. I'm thinking I might just declare, "Damn accuracy! Full speed ahead!" and paint this. I've got to get on that horse sometime. Why not now? (well, later this afternoon) I love the people that other people paint, like Kelly Rae Roberts (Yep, saw her in Cloth, Paper, Scissors this month - that's where the inspiration came from this a.m.) and Judy Wise (whose blog is awesome). I think my biggest issue as an artist is the fear of doing something "wrong." I see people who just seem to exhale art and I'm envious of their freedom. Okay, and their industriousness, because I'm sure they never just want to play Wordo on their computer for an hour the way I do sometimes!

Here are the ornaments I made for JoAnna Pierotti's niece in Iraq. I hope she doesn't mind that the star is sort of patriotic looking. At first I thought it was a good idea, but then I thought she might want more Christmas-y colors. Anyway, I decided to send this and to make my little Christmas ATC into an ornament.
While I was making the little snowflake I had a thought that it might make a great little kit to sell on Etsy and eBay. So I made some other snowflakes and developed a couple of kits. I'm not sure if I need to put explicit directions with them, or do you think it's pretty self evident? I have one on Etsy right now and I'll be putting another one on eBay today or tomorrow.
I think they're cute and I thought it might be a good project for kids to make handmade ornaments for the grandparents. I'm unsure of my pricing, but I don't think they're too much. And they're priced as low as they can be, really. Let me know what you think. Price is always a sticky point, isn't it?

Well, I've got to stop this uncharacteristically early blog post and go run my 900 errands. I sacrificed my shower for computer time. Hopefully the public can stand to look at this mess I call my hair and face.